This is a line I came across in someone's bio. Apparently the author is not a native speaker of English. The verb extend strikes me as somewhat unusual. Although extend has the sense cause to cover a larger area, I am not sure one can extend research to an area. Does expand work better in this sentence? Or are both verbs fine?

Since 2005 I have extended my research on education to the German society.

  • Extended is fine in this context. Expanded would also work but doesn't mean quite the same thing. merriam-webster.com/dictionary/extended Dec 31 '18 at 23:30
  • @RonaldSole Thank you. I have looked at M-W and Oxford dictionaries before posting. My doubt comes from the fact that there's multiple entries in those dictionaries that appear close in meaning to the usage at issue, but I am not quite sure they cover the usage I am wondering about. Would you elaborate on the difference expand would have in this sentence?
    – Eddie Kal
    Dec 31 '18 at 23:32

I write as a native BrE speaker. There is a difference in meaning between extend and expand in this context, but it is a subtle one that I can best illustrate with an example from my own research.

I am researching how to solve a particular statistical problem. I have today realised that to solve this problem I have to examine some subjects that I had not previously considered relevant. I have extended my research.

Having solved my problem, called for the purposes of illustration "statistical properties of left-handed screwdrivers", I now realise that very similar techniques would also sove the related but different problem of right-handed screwdrivers. I have expanded my research.


Both "extend" and "expand" are fine in this context. One metaphorically indicates stretching out in a particular direction, while the other indicates widening the range to include a new area.

In a similar way you can extend a structure by adding on a new room, increasing its length. You can also expand the structure in the same way, increasing its area. It's two ways of describing the same result.

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